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Shooting People RIP

Hi Everyone

As a long-standing SP member I would like to voice my concern at the direction the site has taken, in particular the elitist metro-centric approach which betrays its core values of equality, community and cooperation. For example:

SCRIPT PITCH - Back in the day this was a weekly bulletin, freely open to all members to pitch their projects. Now it is a monthly post, access is controlled by a gatekeeper, and only the privileged few receive promotion. Some might argue that paying a subscription fee would be sufficient and guarantee exposure, but that is not the case.

FILM OF MONTH - Again, new members might not be aware, but once upon a time SP hosted its own monthly film competition. Everyone could enter, all the films were promoted and available on the site and the entire membership could vote and pick the winner. Not perfect, but the process was open and democratic and everyone benefitted from the exposure.
For example, my own short film 'Wax' was successful in the competition and to date has amassed over 7,700 views and 450 votes: shootingpeople.org/watch/92933/wax...
None of that would have been possible without SP's commitment to supporting all of its members equally and providing a platform to show their films.

Today, SP has a different philosophy and operates the high profile London-based New Shoots. As members we are free to enter the competition, but only the select few chosen by the gatekeepers, the great arbiters of taste, are promoted online. For the winner I'm sure it's a wonderful opportunity and Londoners can enjoy the party at Rich Mix, but as a community of film-makers spread across the world, wouldn't it be better to serve their needs and promote everyone's work?

BROWSE FILMS - After Film of the Month bit the dust this was the only way on SP to track new films and establish an audience. Now, silently, without warning or consultation, that vital part of the network has also disappeared. And if you want to engage with the wider SP community and watch the films members produce there is nowhere to go.


Obviously, as they are the ones who implemented these changes, the SP team will disagree with my comments. However, I would love to hear other people's opinions and if you value what SP once stood for and what it could be in the future, now is the time to make your voice heard.

Thanks for your time,

Kevin Pacey

shootingpeople.org/cards/KevinPacey...

  • Kevin hi,

    Thanks for taking the time to post this in. We’re a small org and choosing which services to improve can sometimes be challenging. But member feedback plays a big part in how we adapt and evolve. And I think we can make positive changes for the future, by explaining those feedback/thinkings, which I’d like to share here.

    Script Pitch was originally a weekly that anyone could post their script into, but the feedback we were getting, was that producers, agents, directors wanted a way to search for specific types of genres. And to search for scripts back over time, without having to go through long, old emails. So we thought it made sense to build Script Pitch for the web, as an open place for all scripts, searchable by anyone, anytime. The bulletins sent each fortnight, are a tool to highlight pitches, and the full Script Pitch site. Because length/amount of email mattered to people, we highlight a small number each fortnight. It’s not our intention to exclude anyone, but to strike a balance between inclusion and readability. We’re keen to also work on further web changes to improve the search interface.

    Film of the Month content: We’re planning to fold that content into the New Shoots section as a browsable archive.

    I do understand it’s frustrating that the New Shoots events happen in London. Our partnership with RichMix makes it possible for all the events to be free. What we wanted to do with New Shoots was provide more actual opportunities and career development (industry mentorship, plus actual kit/prizes). I appreciate any competition like this means only a small group of filmmakers, selected by independent judges, gets access to mentorship and so forth, But I would also say that we actively promote and encourage everyone to post directly into the community via the bulletins to promote their work. A lot of members have had great support this way - also when posting in about kickstarter projects, other festival/online screenings etc. We also do a fair bit of work to discover which members screen at festivals so we can promote this. But it’s very helpful when people post in directly themselves to let us know. We’d also like to keep expanding New Shoots for other roles across the industry, who don’t often get as much support as directors.

    Browse All Films.
    We made Nav changes this week, so ‘Browse All Films’ can now be found under ‘Community’ and New Shoots is in the Nav bar.

    Thanks again for posting in. We’ll make a point of sharing more of the feedback we get and how that guides the changes we make. Enabling the community in the best way we can is key to SP working, so all direct feedback is hugely welcomed.

    Chrs
    Cath
    SP

    2 months ago
    • Hi Cath

      Thank you so much for the detailed and considered response. Hopefully you can see that behind the criticism I care about this site and share your passion for film-making.

      That's great news about the 'Browse Films' link. Obviously, I posted my comment in the downtime, between when it disappeared in one section and reappeared in another, so I look a bit silly now (nothing new there)... but the point still stands and I'm pleased we both agree this is an important function of the site.

      Accusations of London-based elitism are difficult to avoid, though I appreciate the dilemma and if you want to promote films and filmmakers to the UK industry it's the only realistic option. Moving forwards, I think the answer is to avoid anything dictatorial and as much as possible reach out to the members, the ones that pay a subscription, and involve them in the decision making process.

      The old Film of the Month is a perfect example of this and looking again at my experience with 'Wax', all those votes and comments came during the month it featured in the competition (and I'm sure the majority of people had a similar experience). Back then I was also based in Nottingham and every month the SP network events would attract 20-30 filmmakers, many of whom were successful in that same competition. So for me, what SP was doing at that time had a huge positive impact on regional film-making.

      In terms of economics or logistics I don't know how things would work, but in theory you could do something similar with New Shoots - have everyone's films available online, encourage the members to vote for their favourite, and then put the top three through to the Rich Mix showcase. That would mean you losing some control over the final selection, but would certainly make the process more open and democratic.

      Another problem SP faces is the transitory nature of its existence, as unsuccessful filmmakers fall by the wayside and successful ones leave to pursue a career. A constant influx of new enthusiastic filmmakers is essential, but for me retaining the more established ones is just as important - especially when the transition from shorts to features is so difficult and their experience and knowledge of the industry could be a real benefit.

      So it's great that you give someone like Ninian Doff and his film 'Boyz in the Wood' a plug, but it would be even better to see them still active and part of the SP community in 5 or 10 years time. I'm sure this is something you have thought about and achieving it is easier said than done, but those links, those stepping stones, are vital to young inexperienced filmmakers.

      Finally, and I don't want to end on a sour note, but it's great that you welcome feedback and want the members to get involved. That was also my intention with the original post, so maybe you could have opened the conversation up and included it in the Filmmakers bulletin?

      Thanks again to everyone at SP and I appreciate your hard work.

      Regards, Kevin

      2 months ago
  • Hi Kevin!

    Thank you for posting this. I am based in the North West and have been a member since October last year, having previously been a member a few years prior. I left then for the same reasons that are currently bugging me about SP now; that everything is London-centric and there's very little collaboration with anyone outside of the capital.

    In my previous time as a member, I was intrigued by the Shooter in the Pub meetups that I found online through Facebook, so naturally I looked up the Liverpool one and one night headed to FACT. Only when I got there, did the venue not have a clue what was going on but there were only 4 other people there, who seemed as disenchanted as I was starting to feel about the whole thing. I left not long after arriving thinking this was a bit of a flop. I soon left Shooting People.

    I thought I'd give it another go last year and signed up and I'm wondering why I bothered? After only ever finding one successful editing position in the very beginning, every job going is London based and people are only looking for London based collaborators. I put myself forward for as many as I can but applications are met with a deadly silence, not so much a thanks but no thanks, which can be frustrating. There doesn't appear to be any meet-ups organised for up North or anything else for that matter.

    I've brought this sense of frustration up before and it's good to know I'm not the only person feeling this. My subscription is up in October and I am unsure what will happen then.

    So thank you again Kevin for bringing this up! And here's hoping to a change somewhere along the line!

    2 months ago
    • Hi Tim

      Thanks for your feedback. I sympathise with your situation and really there are no easy answers, other than networking, building relationships with other filmmakers and establishing a reputation. But it's Catch 22 and you need to find those people in the first place. When I moved to Cambridge the SP network event was as miserable as the one you described in Liverpool and I'm not even sure if the one in Nottingham is still going.

      In his comment below, John makes the point that in this digital age we no longer need to share the same physical space and he's right in theory, though in practice, as you have discovered, things can be very different.
      I think this comes down to basic human interaction and we're more likely to trust someone and want to work with them if we see them face-to-face. Certainly the best working relationships I've had in the industry have been based on mutual friendship and that's not something that happens over night.

      One idea is that you could organise your own regular networking event in Liverpool, because if you are in this situation, you can guarantee they'll be others just like you.

      Best of luck for the future, Kevin

      2 months ago
  • Having been a member here for many years and based in the heart of rural Wales, where the sheep outnumber the people and the nearest town of more than 5,000 souls is an engaging driving hour away, I've never expected SP to be able to offer the same sort of physical face to face networking than is available in London. Every major city in the country, with any kind of film and TV community, has some social and arts networks better provided for than SP's pub nights. Ours is Cardiff, over 70 miles distant.But for all of the alternative wishfulness some may aspire to, London remains by far the biggest, most diverse and empowered film and TV community, probably in the world, in terms of diversity and cross fertilization. SP can't change that. But isn't the whole point and virtue of our digital age that we no longer need to all share the same physical space?

    Since 1984 we Moving Vision people have collaborated with people and organisations from not only all around the UK but also from many other far flung places around the world. Despite the much valued functions that SP does provide, I've never sought to make it a central plank in our development strategy. It will take a heck of a lot more for most works to break out into viability than to focus ones strategy on Script Pitch or Film of the Month, even though they are excellent rescorses. SP is just one vector in a multifaceted world. For us SP has been more important as a place to collaborate, to share knowledge, rescorses and experience than as a showcase. It's a force multiplier, a rescorse where the sum of the whole can be made greater than the sum of its parts. Never mind that SP can never be all things everyone. It's one of the best networking platforms for those who know how to use it. Much of what is facilitated here is not shared publicly, for sound business reasons.

    Ones own case is not a generality.

    2 months ago
    • Thanks for comment John and it's great that you have managed to prosper as a filmmaker in a remote part of the country. And obviously you are right, as filmmakers we have to spread the net wide and no single website or organisation can service all our needs.

      However, given the choice and aware that resources are limited, I would prefer that valuable time, effort and money went into schemes that benefited the community as a whole, rather than just giving a select few a nice career break (as welcome and deserving it may be for those chosen).
      The Film of the Month competition may not have been perfect and there might be better options out there, but it was inclusive and allowed every member to showcase their work, build up an audience and vote on the winner. In the current New Shoots scheme none of that is possible and with the focus on London you can see why people, particularly those in the regions, become disillusioned.

      And I don't know how the numbers break down, but if enough people feel like Tim above and decide SP is not worth the subscription fee, then how long will the site survive? Because if they're not finding work, if they feeling ignored and marginalised, people won't stick around.
      Regards, Kevin

      2 months ago
    • @Kevin Pacey I agree Kevin, I'm from the Midlands and have noticed a drop in membership from the area.

      To the truth, I've been busy with regular work, so I've just been using SP as a fun resource. And a key part of that was Film of the Month. As you say, it wasn't perfect - what appeared to be vote rigging towards the end showed bad spirit- but it was fun to see all the new films each month and I looked forward to it.

      That sense of interactivity, that even if you weren't using the site for moviemaking, it still had a purpose for a browser, has now gone.

      For £30 a year I'll probably stay subbed, but I rarely visit it these days


      Richard

      2 months ago
  • If you would like to meet filmmakers/crew, screenwriters, or actors in your local area please email filmpartners@andbut.co.uk with your details including location and how far you would travel for an event or collaboration.

    2 months ago
  • Hi all

    In terms of events outside London, we encourage ‘Shooters in the Pub’: local meet ups that can be set up by any SP member on fb in their local areas. Searching for ‘Shooting People’ or ‘Shooters in the Pub’ under ‘groups’ on the SP FB page will show you which ones members have set up. I’m sorry you only had a small group for the Liverpool meet up Tim. It does takes energy to run them, and sometimes it’s the case that members move location or take a break for a while. There are currently very active Shooter meetups in Sheffield, Norwich and Brighton (and a shoutout and thankyou again to all the members organising those). There’s also Shooter in the Pub groups, that don’t meet up physically, but are active in Aberdeen, Barnestable, Cambridge, Leeds, Southampton, Bath, Belfast, Bournemouth, Bristol, Birmingham, York, Edinburgh, Exeter, Hastings, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Oxford.

    Film of the Month member voting. I think public voting can sound more open/democratic, but in the past we have had problems with it, including some people (obvs, not all!) actively encouraging friends to vote films their films up and others down, so people with the widest social networks had a better advantage than those without. So we decided to shift to independent judges to select the overall winners for New Shoots. No system is perfect for sure, but we believe the current setup is fair. And enabling all members to post into the bulletins to promote their work anytime has been working well too (many filmmakers can’t have their films viewable online because of festival restrictions).

    In terms of other sharing, we promote pretty widely the vast number of regional festivals, regional events, regional training etc. But having said all that, it is still true that the biggest percentage of production jobs on SP are London based, which is frustrating. One of our hopes is that the overall industry push to support more production activity period, to prodns in the nations and regions, will make deeper changes overall which would be reflected throughout SP.

    Chrs
    Cath
    SP

    2 months ago
    • Hi Cath,
      It would indeed be nice if the Shooters In The Pub initiative worked better (outside London). Take Manchester for example (near where I live). It's obviously a thriving city and teeming with creative industries and film-making folk. However for you to say that the FB "Shooters In The Pub" Manchester group is "active" is stretching the truth a bit. It gets the occasional self-promotional advert, and currently someone has posted up several anti-Trump posts - completely irrelevant and we get enough of that in our regular FB feeds... There is the odd post asking for help with this or that but nobody ever replies (unlike on SP itself which is pretty good for that IME). The FB group is in no way a conversation or collaborative or anything remotely useful. It could be, but it isn't. Maybe a one-time push of some kind would get things going? (and how about something in Leeds?)
      Cheers
      Tim

      2 months ago
    • Why is Shooters in the Pub on a Facebook page and not on the website we pay for membership?

      2 months ago
    • Hi Cath

      Thanks again for your response and to everyone else for contributing to this debate.

      Obviously, SP is a small organisation with limited resources and London will always dominate UK culture. And you're right, the success of 'Shooter's in the Pub' depends on the individual in charge and few people have the time or commitment to make it work. But AndBut makes a great point and wouldn't it be better if the scheme was integrated into the main site and each group had its own page, with film links, opportunities, contacts, etc?

      Re: Voting, FotM, New Shoots, etc. - I'm not sure why promoting your film in a competition and asking people to vote is perceived as unethical, but giving that power to faceless unaccountable judges is seen as fair? For me this just epitomises the elitist attitude I'm talking about, when the proles aren't trusted to vote the 'right way' and only our superiors and betters know what's good for us.

      Plus, I think you're making a crucial mistake in focussing on the winners. The competition element gave FotM structure, but who won was less important than the opportunity to network, promote your work, discover new talent and develop an audience. And as Richard Callaghan says above, the process was fun and interactive, two things most websites like to encourage.

      Kevin

      2 months ago
    • @Kevin Pacey @AndBut Films

      100% agree about the Facebook comment... it does make the SP website somewhat redundant.

      As for the voting on shorts, then as someone who once had way too much time on their hands (brief unemployment) I was a person who once noticed and reported a "rigging" of the competition, which did spoil the fun. Not so much people getting their friends to vote for their movies, which is expected... but sometimes films dropping their score overnight due to what appeared to be a max influx of 1 star votes (or whatever the system was).

      The positive up votes for friends goes with the territory... but I noticed people targetting negative votes (unless the most popular film in the competition really did pick up about 20 downvotes overnight) and it seemed to be going against the spirit of the competition.

      So I did personally flag this to the site owners (more probably did, and they said they'd noticed anyway) as it wasn't in the spirit of the thing.

      But if it was a choice between Film of the Month with rigged votes and no Film of the Month at all, I'd go the former every time.

      2 months ago
    • @Richard Callaghan

      Thanks for the comment. As I remember FotM it was impossible to cast a negative vote - you had the choice of rating a film 1-5 or not voting at all, so while a sudden influx of 1 star votes is definitely suspicious, in reality it still meant those votes were added to the grand total and the film benefitted. So if the intention was to damage a film's chances it was a weird way of going about it.

      But we agree the complaint about friends is a bit odd. It's like saying Labour have more friends and a wider social network than the Greens and the solution is to cancel all elections... Forgetting that the election process gives the Greens access to voters and the opportunity to put policies forward and debate the issues on a national level. And in a similar way members who competed in FotM enjoyed benefits that went beyond who won that month.

      Cheers, Kevin

      2 months ago
  • There are still several of us who pop into SP on an irregular basis. John Lubran and Paddy are two who can often add good advice. It is a great place to find crew and actors, locations, tips and events of opportunities.
    Like most things, there is a heavy hub in London, face it greater London has a huge population, but that doesn't exclude those of us outside the main hive. No need to exclude the main hive from your views, but yes, they could be a little more aware that there is talent outside, where the locations often are.

    2 months ago
  • I’ve been a member for just over a year now and live in the NW of the UK. I initially did not renew back in December but was then offered a very cheap renewal deal so decided to give it another go. My own personal experience is the script pitches I’ve done have not resulted in interest from other members and the short films I’ve submitted have not made the selections. I check out the daily emails and do not see much in the way of opportunities for me as a writer. I’m not getting anything more than I do from similar free services so far but I joined as an experiment. I’m not posting this as a moan, just letting you know what I’ve got from SP so far and I understand the aim of SP is far wider than finding opportunities for writers.

    2 months ago
  • I wonder (and this is a terribly presumptuous thing to say) whether there might be a long-term strategy of slightly changing the offering for London and non-London members. I'm based in London and so slightly take for granted that most of the SP arranged events, not to mention the vast majority of the job postings and networking connections, are here, but think it's striking what Kevin says. It's clear the Shooting People is a different product for those outside of London – and whilst there's no easy way to arrange Shooters in the Pub events in every city and region of the UK, it does feel like if members outside the capital have to do so much of the IRL organisation off their own back and initiative, they shouldn't be subsidising those of us who gets those events organised for us.

    This is a bad comparison but Cineworld membership, for example, is more expensive if you want access to their central London cinemas, and perhaps something similar could be done. After all, £40 a year is quite a lot for an online-only service, which is what many regional filmmakers will feel SP to be. Just a thought.

    2 months ago
  • Hi all - this seems like a good place to get one other London vs Regions niggle off my chest. When looking for crew etc, filmmakers often say they are filming in Great Britain without specifying the region, still less the actual city or county. Since most "jobs" are for expenses only, I for one don't want to spend hours travelling to far flung corners of the nation. Or even the South-East, which I believe stretches from Dover to Bucks. So:
    1. Can SP make the region a compulsory question (I don't think it is)?
    2. Can all producers also pinpoint film locations in their description, please? Perhaps a prompt from SP might remind them...
    Glyn
    PS Hastings' Shooters in the Pub has died, but there is an active facebook network "Hastings Filmmakers"

    2 months ago
  • Hi all,

    There’s some really helpful ideas here. And I really appreciate awareness of us being a small org. One of the great things on the SP community is I’ve always felt criticisms absolutely come from a place of just wanting SP to work better. So thankyou. It’s not moaning - it’s super helpful to hear what could work better.

    On the FB regional groups
    Yes, this is clearly not working well now. The fb groups were part of our legacy history. They started over 12 years ago, when we just had daily bulletins and no instant feedback, as a way for regional filmmakers to more easily/quickly meetup. Later, we rebuilt the SP site to have instant feedback (ask/discuss). So yes, as many of you say, bringing the Shooters in the Pubs, back inside SP makes much more sense now. The admins on the fb groups are regional SP members (not us), so we’ll want to consult with them as part of a longer term strategy and change. But it’s made us think too about how could we make the site more visible for activity/meetups happening outside London. We could add the MeetUp’s into the Nav on discuss for eg. Make it really easy to start one. Add any members to each of the meet ups, with their profiles, so people can also quickly see who is local to them/attending. I’d like us to consult with the admins on fb first, but will aim to feedback later in the year with some ideas for the site, for all to feedback on.

    New Shoots Things
    Kevin hi, super helpful your point about interactivity. I agree we have missed a trick here. (The voting by members on films I think is a separate issue - it created a lot of complaints about fairness, as above). But your point on getting audience/comments on films is great. Because some filmmakers also couldn’t allow their New Shoots films to be screened on the site, (festival restrictions), we dropped showing all films submitted. But there’s no reason why we can’t introduce that again. If you can’t have your film shown, then there can be an option for that and it won’t matter if some films aren’t up there. Those that can, can be viewed and commented on, which is what helps us all (getting and reading feedback from other filmmakers). We’ve got a long list of things to do (!) but thanks again for this. We’d really like to aim to build and have that in place soon.

    Writers
    We’d also really like to expand New Shoots for other roles. It does always come down to resource, in terms of when/how’s, but we’ve just rolled out a New Shoots for actor members. On the list, is to also figure out versions for animators, writers, composers, producers etc. And using the competitions to highlight members work along the way (+ promote interactivity/visibility as Kevin says). Once we have time in the schedule, and some initial plans, we’ll post that in for thoughts.

    Regional/Jobs
    Thanks Glyn. It hasn’t been compulsory in the past because filmmakers often weren’t sure where they were shooting, so it was optional. But we can make it compulsory going fwds, and ‘Great Britain’ could also cover people who have multiple locations, or are unsure. We just need to check how that will then work against search functionality.

    Chrs
    Cath
    SP

    2 months ago
    • Hi Cath

      Thanks again for taking time to respond and having such a positive attitude. When anyone makes a criticism, even if it's well-intended, it's easy become defensive. Plus, by the time they complain people have generally got worked-up over something and can be overly harsh (which was the case with my original comment and the attention-grabbing headline).

      Obviously any changes will mean additional work for the SP team, at least in the short-term anyway, but hopefully we'll all appreciate the benefit.

      Returning to FotM / New Shoots - We're going to have to agree to disagree about the voting issue, but it's interesting what you say about films not being screened because of festival restrictions. When FotM was at its peak a lot of filmmakers I knew felt ripped-off by the whole festival experience and used the competition to premier their work. That could be one reason why their films attracted more viewers/votes, but it's a shame we didn't get to see how that developed as it could have offered a viable alternative to all the money-making scams.

      Best of luck with the future plans.

      Kevin

      2 months ago
  • Hi all, I too am a long-standing SP member, and one thing that had improved, is the number of paid jobs been offered. A few years back I posted several bulletins regarding the NMW being ‘disregarded’ and how too many folk wished to use folks shills for free, as in essence, funding their own dream chasing.

    Nowadays far more jobs on here are paid work which I feel is great not only for the industry but for folks self-esteem and their value recognised.

    However, having had applied for umpteen roles on here, and never having had a reply (I have had one reply actually), as i’m sure whilst my editing is not the best in the world, it’s equal to any one whose willing to be paid £100 per day, I can only assume this may be down to this London-centric attitude.

    I have to agree, not just on here, but in the industry as a whole, London is treated as though it is the centre of the universe. I can assure you... it isn’t. There is an abundance of talent in the Midlands and the North, and it’s willing to travel.

    Don’t let SP become a microcosm of what the industry has become despite naming ‘promises’ of diversity and giving those of diverse socio-economic backgrounds the chances at PAID work.

    Cheers and God Bless 🙏🏻

    J.P.

    2 months ago
    • Hi Jon-Paul

      You're right, the number of paid jobs on SP has definitely increased over the last couple of years and it's great the site is attracting those posts.

      The 'no-reply' scenario is very familiar, though it's more of a general attitude people have today rather than anything specific to SP. Plus, the problem writers, editors and cinematographers have, is that they're all jobs directors feel they can do and in a low-budget production that's where money can be saved.

      In my experience anywhere in the SE will be consumed by London, but you'd like to think cities further away (Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Cardiff, etc) would be big enough to support their own independent cultural scene. I'm not a huge fan of the BFI, but recently they have taken the initiative and reached out to the regions, so you could always check out the relevant Film Hub:

      www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/distri...

      www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/distri...

      Cheers, Kevin

      2 months ago
    • @Kevin Pacey Completely agree with you again on this Kevin. It's not just SP where people aren't responding. Mandy.com is just as bad, if not worse. Y I think what makes that worse is that you can see when people look at your applications.

      Sadly it does all boils down to people's attitudes.

      2 months ago
  • Fair point Glyn - about locations that is and the cost of getting there when working for kicks/zilch/something to do. Not a hope in hell of getting anywhere. Oh you'll get sympathetic bleeps from SP but little will transpire. Why? Because we're cheap mate. We're the mugs who work for nothing. So we don't count. I've lost count of the number of student flicks that have ended up costing me money. Trouble is I usually like the buggers. So when they wriggle uncomfortably when expenses are mentioned - remembering they have never been so poor as under this government - I usually say 'oh buy me a pint' Which I sometimes get.

    2 months ago